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Oyster Veneering – A Slice of Nature’s Beauty

Oyster Veneering – A Slice of Nature’s Beauty
October 2, 2012 Peter Hemerlein

Oyster veneering is one of those terms that is widely known within an industry such as ours but almost unheard of otherwise. We have been lucky enough to provide a line of beautiful oyster-veneered reproduction furniture almost since we started this company. Without fail, when I have a piece of oyster at a local show or am showing it in our shop the customer will wistfully run their hand across the top and say in an almost awed whisper, “What kind of wood is THIS?”

The term oyster veneering has earned its name because the grain very closely resembles an oyster shell. The effect is achieved by slicing the veneer perpendicularly across the end grain of smaller branches and logs. Each oyster slice is then hand inlaid onto a piece of furniture to give it an almost log pile look that is very eye-catching. Most oyster veneering uses yew or olive wood, but it sometimes uses kingwood and walnut. This technique was first made popular during the reign of William and Mary in the late 17th century. Oyster veneering remained fashionable until the mid-18th century and was re-introduced during the early 20th century.

We have been lucky enough to have quite a few oyster pieces like this restored Victorian chest with a later added oyster veneer.

Antique Dresser Oyster Chest